Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

Wellpoint Overhauling Capitol Drive Campus

Plus: A recap of the week's real estate news.

By - Apr 30th, 2023 11:25 am
Wellpoint Care Network, 8901 W. Capitol Dr. Rendering by Groth Design Group.

Wellpoint Care Network, 8901 W. Capitol Dr. Rendering by Groth Design Group.

Wellpoint Care Network, a trauma-informed-care-focused nonprofit, is working to transform its northwest-side campus into a community anchor.

It’s part of a multi-year, multi-million effort to overhaul the complex, 8901 W. Capitol Dr., and better connect with the community the organization serves.

The existing 18-acre campus dates back to the 1950s and the organization itself to 1850. The campus was initially constructed as a new home for St. Amelian’s Orphan Asylum. By 1980, St. Aemilian-Lakeside refocused its offering to care for the whole family and eventually took on the name SaintA. In 2007, it began practicing trauma-informed care and, in 2017, it shuttered its residential care operation. In 2022, the organization rebranded itself as Wellpoint Care Network.

The latest phase of the overhaul is expected to create a new space to provide mental health services and create a “welcoming, trauma-informed space” for neighbors and community members to meet. Wellpoint offers an array of prevention, intervention and crisis resources for families.

“Our deep commitment to engage and serve the community creates the vision for this rejuvenated campus in our longtime Milwaukee neighborhood,” said Wellpoint President and CEO Ann Leinfelder Grove in a statement. “It will be a place for creating connection; for citizens to receive quality mental health care and vital social services, for neighbors to attend a community meeting or tend a plot in the community garden and for our dedicated employees to experience a bright and modern workspace for their efforts to support children and families to thrive.”

The Wisconsin Health and Education Facilities Authority (WHEFA) partnered with Wellpoint to issue $12.5 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds to fund the project. A public fundraising campaign is expected to launch in the near future.

“Thank you to WHEFA and our project partners for investing in Wellpoint Care Network’s campus as a community anchor,” said board chair Bill Harrigan in a statement. “This transforms how we will utilize our space to better serve the people in our care, our staff and the citizens of southeast Wisconsin. Access to lower-cost financing allows us to implement our campus plan in a shorter time frame than using traditional financing.”

The complex is effectively a series of three multi-level buildings connected by a central corridor.

According to online permitting records, the organization has been working through the construction permitting process since early last fall. Groth Design Group is serving as the project architect. VJS Construction Services is serving as the general contractor.

Wellpoint, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, reported $28.6 million in revenue and $28.8 million in expenses in its 2021 federal 990 tax filing. An independent board governs the organization.

The surrounding neighborhood, St. Amelian’s, still bears the name of the original Catholic institution in the area.



Weekly Recap

Milwaukee’s Million-Dollar Pipeline

People are always on the lookout for the proverbial money tree. Milwaukee found one that is buried underground.

A fuel pipeline that serves Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport will net the City of Milwaukee more than $1 million over the next 25 years.

It’s free money for allowing a pipeline to continue to run across a city-owned former landfill, 1600 E. College Ave.

The city, with no fee attached, approved a 25-year easement in 1972 to allow a fuel tank farm to cross the property and connect with the airport. In 1997, it renewed the agreement for another 25 years, again with no fee.

Read the full article

MSOE’s New Building Will Be ‘Kendall Breunig Center’

The Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) will honor alumnus and regent Kendall Breunig by naming the new home for its Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management (CAECM) program after him.

The Kendall Breunig Center for the Built Environment will be located in the redeveloped three-story office building at 310 E. Knapp St. Completed in 2001, the 59,249-square-foot building has long been leased to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. MSOE acquired the building a little more than a month ago.

Breunig, who leads Sunset Investors, sold the building to the university for $1.09 million, more than $8 million less than its assessed value, and is donating an additional $2 million to the university for its $14 million redevelopment. Students are expected to begin using the building in the fall of 2024.

“Kendall Breunig has transformed commercial development in the Milwaukee area and across Southeastern Wisconsin, building on the skills he honed at MSOE. We are thankful that he is helping MSOE continue its campus improvements,” said MSOE President John Y. Walz in a statement Friday morning announcing the name. “With the Kendall Breunig Center for the Built Environment, MSOE will continue its tradition of educating the next generation of construction leaders who will design and build the future landscape of our city and beyond.”

Read the full article

Housing Authority Residents Demand Investigation

Residents are demanding an investigation of the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee after they say they have experienced assault; bedbugs and rats; “lost” rent payments; abusive management;  mold; and no heat.

In addition, they question the leadership of Secretary-Executive Director Willie Hines, who has been with the Housing Authority for over 20 years and is a former Common Council president.

“The people in charge here walk around like they are God,” said Chris Logan, who’s been in her apartment for 10 years. “Willie Hines always tells the story of how he grew up in public housing, but would he want to live the way he forces us to live?”

The agency declined to comment on the residents’ allegations.

Read the full article

Where Do Your Possessions Go In An Eviction?

This story was originally published by Wisconsin Watch.

Wisconsinites who experience eviction sometimes lose more than a home.

Those who can’t afford to move and store their belongings may lose them, too — adding to the financial and emotional toll of displacement.

In Milwaukee County, where landlords filed for more than 200 evictions in the first week of April alone — about half of those filed statewide — government and nonprofit officials have in recent years bolstered resources for eviction prevention. But little, if any, aid is available to help residents retain or reclaim their possessions following an eviction.

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A Look At Milwaukee Home Sales In First Quarter of 2023

Editor’s note: This is the first piece in a new series by Marquette University researcher John D. Johnson. It will explore trends in residential property sales in the city of Milwaukee using data-driven analysis of state real estate transfer records. Look for future analysis on a quarterly basis.

Amidst a slowdown in overall Milwaukee home sales, out-of-state landlords dramatically slowed their buying spree in the first quarter of 2023. The three largest out-of-state landlords, which own approximately 1,500 homes in the city, combined to buy only a single house during the period. But the news doesn’t mean a buyer’s market has been created. The percentage of homes being sold by owner-occupants trended upward and home prices remain higher than last year.

The total number of city of Milwaukee home sales fell to pre-pandemic levels during the quarter. Slightly more than 1,400 houses were sold in self-reported arm’s length (unrelated parties) transactions during the first three months of this year. That is down from nearly 2,100 in both 2021 and 2022, but similar to the sale volume in 2018 and 2019.

The statistics in this article are derived from a custom dataset matching state transaction records with city parcel data. Due to delays in the reporting process, the 2023 statistics are preliminary, and the final totals will likely be slightly higher than at present. About 1.5% of transactions could not be matched and are not included in this analysis.

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7 Catalytic Projects For Downtown Milwaukee

The Department of City Development is ready to get to work on advancing a new shared vision for downtown Milwaukee.

It has seven catalytic projects it’s focused on as part of a new downtown plan, Connec+ing MKE Downtown Plan 2040.

The department, in partnership with Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, released the draft plan Wednesday. The new plan, subject to Common Council approval, would build on the 1999 and 2010 downtown plans. The ideas in the last two downtown plans, including building a streetcar system and demolishing the Park East Freeway, have been largely realized.

The new plan calls for seven catalytic projects:

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City Seeks Restaurant or Cafe For Downtown Park

The City of Milwaukee is looking for a “uniquely Milwaukee” food and beverage vendor to operate at Vel R. Phillips Plaza, a new downtown park planned along W. Wisconsin Ave.

A request for proposals (RFP) was issued this week to select a vendor. City officials hope the operator makes the plaza a marquee downtown destination. Construction is expected to begin this fall, with the plaza planned to open in time for the July 2024 Republican National Convention.

The vendor would operate from a new, glassy building near W. Wisconsin Ave. and N. 5th St. The plaza, honoring civil rights pioneer Vel Phillips, would run east along W. Wisconsin Ave. to N. Vel R. Phillips Ave.

“The location couldn’t be more promising,” said Mayor Cavalier Johnson at a press conference Monday. The mayor ticked off a long list of nearby projects, including the $456 million expansion of the convention center, Fiserv’s headquarters relocation to HUB640, the planned Kohl’s department store, The Avenue, 3rd Street Market Hall, Bradley Symphony Center and new Milwaukee Tool downtown office. “There is much more happening in the Westown neighborhood as well.”

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Tenants Union Calls for More Legal Aid

Although a program in Milwaukee County that helped tenants facing eviction find legal representation saw major successes, local housing advocates feel that far more is needed. “It’s still kind of a drip in the bucket,” Joshua Taylor, an organizer with the Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union (MATU) told Wisconsin Examiner. “It’s a positive reform, but we also still need more of a systemic change.”

Called Eviction Free MKE, the program was launched as a pilot in September 2021 with $3 million in funding from Milwaukee County, the city and the United Way of Milwaukee and Waukesha. Tenants facing eviction were represented by attorneys from the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee and Legal Action of Wisconsin. From its launch to December 2022, the program was evaluated by Stout, a global investment bank and advisory firm that was contracted by United Way.

The report, which was released in late March, found that representation for tenants during eviction proceedings rose from 2-3% prior to the program’s launch to 6-16%. Evictions were prevented in 76% of cases, and eviction records sealed in 72%. In 70% of cases, attorneys were able to prevent the tenant from being forced to move involuntarily. Furthermore, the report found that a majority of evictions (63%) that were filed during the program were in majority-Black census tracts, and that 78% of the program’s clients were Black women. By comparison, less than 30% of Milwaukee County’s residents are Black, and about 50% are women.

Taylor has seen women repeatedly play critical roles in tenant organizing. “The most gung ho, the most willing go and not only make change for themselves but everyone in their building, or neighborhood, or community, it’s usually women who are leading the way,” he said. “And most of them do have children too.”

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25-Story Farwell Tower Wins First Approval

A proposed 25-story Lower East Side apartment building secured its first public approval Monday.

The City Plan Commission unanimously recommended a zoning change to enable development of New Land Enterprises‘ proposed 318-unit apartment tower. The building would be constructed atop a surface parking lot at N. Farwell Ave. and E. Curtis Pl.

An L-shaped tower would rise from an eight-story base. The apartments are intended to compete with those in other new, high-end buildings. An outdoor pool and large deck would be included in the building, atop the eight-story parking podium. Other planned amenities include a large club room and fitness center.

The proposal has the strong support of area Alderman Jonathan Brostoff, who said it would replace one of the worst land uses, a parking lot, with one of the best, housing.

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New Harvard Design School Leader a Longtime Local Architect

The new chair of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) is a former Milwaukee architect.

And though she’s traded the Cream City for Beantown, Grace La‘s work, still dots Milwaukee. Through her firm, La Dallman Architects, it includes the Marsupial Bridge under the Holton Street Viaduct and Kilbourn Tower.

Both La and her husband James Dallman served as architecture professors at UW-Milwaukee in addition to operating their practice locally. The firm continues to work in Wisconsin, including on a new museum in a repurposed granary in Door County.

La and Dallman both hold master’s degrees in architecture from Harvard, where they now work. La has served as a professor at the university since 2013, Dallman as a design critic since 2019. In 2022, they were appointed faculty directors for the Graduate Commons Program. La previously was the inaugural chair of the university’s practice program and director of its master of architecture degree programs.

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